October 20, 2022
Unique partnership with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and veteran leadership team deploys vital capital to blue economy ‘narwhals’ at the nexus of ocean innovation, science and technology
Today, Propeller, a climate-tech fund that invests in and builds ocean-climate companies, announced its inaugural $100 million fund to support founders looking to address the climate crisis by advancing planet-saving, ocean-based science and technology solutions.
Propeller is bolstered by a world-class leadership team – including Brian Halligan, Co-founder and Executive Chairperson of HubSpot, Devdutt Yellurkar, General Partner at CRV, climate scientist and oceanographer Dr. Julie Pullen, ocean investor and entrepreneur Reece Pacheco, and Steven Fox, international business builder and investor. Collectively, they bring a wealth of business acumen and decades of investment expertise to Propeller aimed at catalyzing growth of the $2.5 trillion blue economy.
Amidst the landscape of emerging climate funds, Propeller is distinguished by its focus on the ocean and a unique partnership with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). This collaboration will provide access to the brightest minds and intellectual property (IP) in ocean science and innovation, ensuring that the most promising, scientifically-sound oceanic solutions receive the mission-critical capital, tools and resources required to attract private sector capital and scale. For more than 90 years WHOI has been pushing the boundaries of knowledge about our ocean and its relationship with the rest of our planet, and is a world leader in critical discovery science, technology development, and ocean communications.
“Our ocean holds tremendous potential for scaling up climate and carbon solutions, yet only a fraction of the venture capital dollars that have flooded into climate tech flow to the seascape of ocean-based solutions,” said Brian Halligan, founder of Propeller. “The Propeller team together with our partners at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution launched this fund to change this dynamic – to invest in the planet’s best hope to decarbonize the global economy and turn today’s ocean startups into tomorrow’s ‘narwhals’.”
“This is a critical time for the ocean. There is an urgent need to accelerate ocean discovery, exploration, and technology and sustain precious ocean ecosystems for the benefit of humanity and the health of our planet as a whole,” said Dr. Peter de Menocal, president and director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “We are excited to be a part of Propeller’s new fund, which will support ocean science and technology innovation and accelerate the urgent need for ocean-based climate solutions by bringing these ideas to life.”
Surging markets exist at the intersection of the climate crisis and ocean innovation. In addition to the WHOI partnership, the pipeline of investment prospects comes through Propeller's Entrepreneurs In Residence program and from Propeller’s network of entrepreneurs and scientific leaders across the ocean-climate sector. The Fund invests in Ocean Carbon – companies developing ocean carbon dioxide removal and blue carbon methodologies and technologies for measurement, reporting, and verification; Ocean Organics – entities discovering innovative uses of marine organics such as algae and microbes for novel energy, packaging, pharmaceutical applications; and Ocean Industrials – enterprising startups decarbonizing or improving efficiency in maritime industries like shipping, wave energy, offshore wind, and desalination.
Propeller also offers a novel Ocean MBA Program, a three-day intensive course taught and designed by Propeller’s first-rate leadership team and members of their network. It's designed to empower early-stage founders in the ocean space with the skills they need to lead and rapidly grow their ventures. Much of the curriculum is inspired by real-world courses taught at some of the world’s premier business schools, including Scaling Entrepreneurial Ventures – a popular course Propeller founder, Brian Halligan, teaches at MIT Sloan. In the words of one Ocean MBA Fellow, the Ocean MBA gave them the "lingua franca" of startups and customer focus they didn't have coming out of science/academia.
“The oceans play a substantial role in buffering us from climate impacts,” said Dr. Julie Pullen, chief scientist and partner at Propeller. “It’s vital to transform ocean science and technology to meet the expanding markets of the new blue economy. Propeller achieves this by bridging capital and science to center the oceans in addressing the scale of the climate crisis.”
Founded in 2022, Propeller is a $100M climate-tech fund that invests in and builds ocean-climate companies that use science and technology to address the climate crisis. For more information, please visit us at www.propellervc.com or Twitter @propellerocean.
About Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930, its mission is to understand the ocean and its interactions with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate an understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. WHOI’s pioneering discoveries stem from an ideal combination of science and engineering—one that has made it one of the most trusted and technically advanced leaders in fundamental and applied ocean research and exploration anywhere. WHOI is known for its multidisciplinary approach, superior ship operations, and unparalleled deep-sea robotics capabilities. We play a leading role in ocean observation and operate the most extensive suite of ocean data-gathering platforms in the world. Top scientists, engineers, and students collaborate on more than 800 concurrent projects worldwide—both above and below the waves—pushing the boundaries of knowledge to inform people and policies for a healthier planet. Learn more at whoi.edu.